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Othello receives grant contract for new basketball courts

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | August 9, 2022 5:20 PM

OTHELLO — Othello city officials have received a contract for a $350,000 grant that will pay for construction of two new basketball courts in Lions Park and replace two existing courts. It’s the first contract of a $1.35 million project to expand the basketball courts and rebuild the Lions Park playground.

“What I’ve heard from (the Recreation and Conservation Office) is that we have contracts by the end of September because their budget season is coming to an end and we need to have all those contracts out by then,” Thalia Lemus, the city’s grant administrator, said.

City officials obtained grants in 2021 to pay for the basketball courts as well as the redesign and rebuild of the playground. Construction was scheduled for 2022, but changes in the construction market and the need to meet contract stipulations led to a delay.

Lemus said contracts are still pending for the two grants that will pay for the playground redesign.

Lemus updated Othello City Council members on the status of ongoing grant-funded projects during the regular council meeting Monday.

The city is in the third of a four-week series of summer camps teaching young people how to play various sports, from soccer to basketball to hockey. Lemus said the camps have attracted lots of children, and Councilmember Jon Erickson said he was impressed by what he had seen.

“It’s a huge success out there,” Erickson said. “The smiles and the laughter walking in there - it’s great. This year’s sports season in Othello is definitely memorable.”

Erickson said he wants the program to continue beyond this summer. He asked about continuing funding.

“Unfortunately that is not a year-to-year thing,” Lemus said. “We would have to reapply for it.”

The city received about $430,000 through the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office for the 2022 summer camp program. Lemus said the grant included some money through coronavirus relief funds.

“I’m hoping they will probably allocate the same amount to the (recreation) program again, and we get the same opportunity to apply next year,” she said. “But as of right now, it is not something we’re going to get again for sure next year.”

There may be other grant opportunities, Lemus said, even if the city doesn’t qualify for the OSPI grant again. The 2022 grant helped the city build a stronger recreation program, even if another application is unsuccessful.

“We have been able to purchase so much equipment for our parks and rec department,” Lemus said. “So in the event that we do this again next year, and let’s say we don’t get as big an allocation, we at least will have the equipment and the materials to provide some sort of summer camp at a lesser cost to the city or the funding agency.”

Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

CLARIFICATION: - The grant funding will pay not only for two brand new basketball courts, but also the replacement of two existing courts.

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